Record: 9-5 (1-2)
KenPom Rank: 81
The thing about moving into conference play is that every team you face is good, but also, every team is very different. What you needed to do to win previously is not going to be the same thing you need to do to win the next one.
Thursday’s win over Michigan was nice, now we face Maryland who is a very different team. Michigan is more efficient on offense, but not particularly strong on defense. Maryland, on the other hand, is very strong on defense, particularly in the paint. Scoring enough points to win on Sunday is going to be a challenge. Can the Gophers get their third straight Big Ten win?
KEYS TO A GOPHER WIN
Make 3s! - Often, if you make threes, you’ll be in a position to win. But Maryland has been really bad at defending the three. Currently, the Terrapins rank 268th nationally in defending the three (while also ranking 341st in offensive 3pt FG%). Coming back home to the Barn, the Gophers need to knock down threes at a high rate.
Get Carrington and Garcia going - Both Braeden Carrington and Dawson Garcia missed the last few weeks of December. The Michigan game was the first game back for Carrington and the second for Garcia. They are getting their game-legs back under them and this would be the right time for both to take a big step toward being “back.
Julian Reese - I know that Jahmir Young is the guy who could very easily go for 30 points and completely take over the game. But Julian Reese is the one that I think makes the difference between a win and a loss on Sunday. The strong forward just finished the Purdue loss with 0 points and 7 rebounds. But he’s very capable of scoring 20 to go with a dozen rebounds. The Gopher frontcourt needs to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Sheesh, that Michigan win is starting to make me believe. The Gophers might even be favored to win this game. No doubt this team is far more talented and competent than we were a year ago.
I’m still not ready to start predicting wins yet. This one is at home and I predict that Carrington has more of an impact this game. But I also predict that Maryland is going to be physical defensively and it may make scoring difficult.
Minnesota - 71
Maryland - 73